Vancouver cheap eats that are actually cheap—and actually tasty

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      Seemingly everyone who’s not in the one per cent is hurting financially these days, which makes going out for food a somewhat depressing and/or rare affair. But we’ve still gotta eat, right?

      When you’re on the go, when you’re craving something specific, when you simply cannot for the life of you cook one more meal for yourself this week so help you God, consider these Vancouver cheap eats. The beauty of these options is that they’re all remarkably affordable—I’m using under $20, all in, to be fully fed and satisfied, as my definition here—and they’re all still incredibly delicious. Because cheap food doesn’t have to mean boring food.

      This list is in no way exhaustive. But it’s a pretty tasty (and accessible) place to start.

      Kam Wai Dim Sum

      Opened in 1991, Kam Wai is a Chinatown staple for very good reason. And while it has a massive frozen section of various dumplings to take home and cook yourself, the hot-and-ready counter will have you feeling full and satiated for a very good price. Think: four pieces of pork siu mai, har gow, or pork beancurd rolls for $4.75; deceptively big rice bowls for $6.20; and wonton soup with six (!) wontons for $5.

      Address: 249 East Pender Street

      Hawkers Delight Deli

      Riley Park hidden gem Hawkers Delight Deli serves up Malaysian food that’s bursting with comforting flavour. The beauty here is the size of the portions; I recently carried some Hawkers Delight takeout to a park a few blocks away and my arms were actually tired after, demonstrating just how much good food they pack into those plastic containers. Most dishes (everything from prawn noodles to chicken curry to mee goreng) run for $13.50, with just the lamb curry going for more ($18.50), because lamb.

      Address: 4127 Main Street

      Banh Mi Saigon

      The debate over the city’s best hole-in-the-wall banh mi is right up there with the debate for the best neighbourhood sushi joint. But Banh Mi Saigon is a serious contender for the former, with its authentic Vietnamese subs going for $7.50 or $8 a pop. Fresh herbs, crunchy vegetables, pillowy bread, your choice of protein—it’s all perfect.

      Address: 5397 Victoria Drive

      Budgie’s Burritos

      Go to Budgie’s for the cheap vegetarian burrito, stay for the excellent Mount Pleasant people watching (how many brooding hipsters can you spot in one hour? A surprisingluy fun game!). With burritos going for anything from $11.50 to $14.50, the biggest decision here will be whether to get your version in tortilla form or bowl form. (The latter comes with tortilla chips for scooping up all that goodness, for the record. You know where I stand.) Plus, they don’t take themselves too seriously here, as evidenced by the below photo. We love self-deprecation!

      Address: 44 Kingsway

      Sal Y Limon

      A very filling burrito stuffed with Mexican rice, cabbage, and protein for $11.75? A quesadilla for $8.50? Hola! Sal Y Limon serves authentic, casual Mexican fare at its three locations, with a truly great selection of salsas. Try ’em all.

      Address: 701 Kingsway #5; 1752 Commercial Drive; 2428 160 Street #10 (Surrey)

      Mr. Shawarma

      Not all food trucks are created equal, you know? The pita wraps (which, notably, have fries stuffed inside) from Mr. Shawarma might just be the city’s best-kept secret. Fresh, full of flavour, and filling—all for under $10.

      Address: 655 Burrard Street 

      Nikkyu Japanese Restaurant

      Speaking of my former discussion RE: neighbourhood sushi joints, Nikkyu is one of mine. The owners here are intent on setting the party vibe, which is why they’ll encourage you to plug your phone into the aux cord to play music on the patio (love). On top of that, sushi rolls—California, salmon avocado, yam tempura—go for just $6.25 (love!). The beer is wildly cheap here, too (looooove).

      Address: 3302 Main Street


      Fujiya is a Japanese grocery store with an excellent read-to-eat section. Get a California roll for $5.25, a yam tempura roll for $6.95, or salmon avocado maki for $7.95. Don’t sleep on the marinated eggplant, either (if you can get to it before it sells out).

      Address: 912 Clark Drive; 1050 West Pender Street #112

      Hon’s Wonton House

      Another Vancouver classic, Hon’s has been serving up satisfying and comforting Chinese food since 1972. Get a big bowl of wonton noodle soup for $13 or siu mai for $8.50.

      Address: 25 East 2nd Avenue; 1661 East Broadway

      Sweet Cherubim

      This East Van grocery specializes in organic and vegan products, and offers a selection of hot foods at its onsite cafe. Don’t even bother browsing the menu; trust me when I say that you will be very happy after snacking on three (generously-sized) samosas of your choice for $12.

      Address: 1105 Commercial Drive

      House of India

      Chinatown might not immediately scream authentic Indian to you, but it should. New to the area is House of India, which offers a particularly good dine-in lunch deal. For $10.99 (between 11am and 4pm), choose between a selection of combo platters—from butter chicken to chana masala to veggie samosas—that will have you very happy you put on real pants and left your work-from-home office to eat here.

      Address: 509 Main Street

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